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Sugar Loaf Rock is on of my favourite photo locations on the South West coast of Western Australia. Although it takes me about four hours to drive there I am hardly ever disappointed with what I can see and besides the rock isn't the only subject there abouts as it is a very ancient rugged coastline that contains everything from quite coves to surf beaches that are world reknown eg: The Billabong Pro.
This particular day the weather wasn't challenging, however it can be extreme. One has to keep a lookout for King waves that can come crashing in at anytime and do do some real damage to you and your gear if the sea if rough and its windy. This day wasn't windy however so I experimented with long exposures and this particular image is an example of the result. I like the contrast with the rugged rock and the smooth surrounding sea but it can be a trap for young players which is why I gave it the title of Deceitful, it's very appropriate. I have other images where the sea and wind is very strong and yes, I have come close to being hit by a King wave and actually got that shot or more accurately the wave photo bombed me.
The area can be a magnet for wildlife. Many seabirds migrate there and although I haven't seen any whales can often be seen cruising by on their migration North and of course, Dugites, which are one of the many venomous snakes in Australia sometimes seen about the place sunbaking. Kangaroos and Emus are sometimes on the approach road you have to be aware of these guys as they can cause a bit of damage to your vehicle if you are unfortunate to hit one.
I have also learnt to keep a watch over my right shoulder when I can view the next bay around the corner to the North as its used by dolphins to hunt fish.
At another occasion I was at Sugarloaf before dawn set up and kept watch on the light. This day was cold and blusterly the camera and I got a little wet if I recall right. Anyway the sun came up and went behing cloud so I called it quits. I had made my way up the rough walking track, wiped my camera down and got out the flask containing nice hot coffee. So there I was leaning against the car drinking my brew casually taking all the nature before me and admiring the light that was appearing through broken coloured cloud. I glanced toward the Bay to my right and noticed a weird formation of water close to the shoreline similar to water disappearing down a drain. Wondering what could cause such a commotion I then saw a number of dorsal fins break the surface all heading in the same direction in a tight circle. I was a little fatigued by this stage. Anyway I suddenly realised that a group of large fish must be indeed fishing. This was realised soon after by a number of said large fish spiralling out of the water. Dolphins getting some breakfast perhaps. I stood there for awhile totally in awe of what I was seeing particularly made more magnificent by the light. It was totally awesome and I felt honoured to be a witness to such an event at such a wondrous time.
Then my brain went into gear and reminded me that I had a camera in the car and should use it. So I went and retrieved my camera, knocking over my coffee I had placed on the ground beside me, changed the lens to a 200mm went back to where I was standing, looked out and what did I see?......nothing. You've got to be kidding me!! I turned on the camera anyway and checked that I had enough battery power and room on the card. I looked up and again saw the dolphins swimming about what looked like aimlessly and didn't see a good shot. Damn I've missed the action. Then all of a sudden out a little further some of the pod started to jump halfheartedly over the crest of a couple of small waves. I put my camera up to my eye trying to figure out where they might come up next. Just as well I kept my left eye open because just a little further out two adults rocketed out over the wave and dived back into the water behind it. I swung around to near where I last saw them and tracked the next large wave, leap, click, dive, splash got it well that's what I thought but I had forgotten I had been taking long exposures OMG !. Quickly changed my settings but missed the next one dolphin leap, bugger. I adjusted a little more for speed I think I also went into auto ISO and went to burst just as a couple more leaped out but the shot I was after wasn't in the camera. Back to single frame and more tweaks and caught a great moment.
Sugarloaf Rock is a fantastic place to go at any time to capture great images, just be on the lookout for the unexpected.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor